Home at Last !

Arrival of Trans-Canada Air Lines Lockheed Super G Constellation CF-TGE
at the
Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington

A 55 year journey with many stops

After decades working with the Museum of Flight in Seattle, I've watched many of the projects that I was deeply involved in, reach fruition, and come home.  After delays, and complications, and many, many doubts, airplanes like the 727 and 737 Prototypes, and the Concorde, safely arrived in their final nest.  All of them have been emotional moments etched forever in my memory, but, -- just maybe, --  this was the best one yet.

The convoy left Ellensburg at 8:00 in the morning, on their final leg, up and over Snoqualmie Pass, after 12 days on the road from Rome, New York.  The weather forecast was marginal - it turned out to be picture perfect.  Progress reports crackled in.  20 miles east of I-405.  Passing through Renton.  Exiting I-5 northbound onto the Boeing Access Road.  We all scurried for position and strained to see them turn north onto East Marginal Way.   Squinting, I thought I could make out the flashing lights of the lead escort vehicles.  And then a big burst of reflected sunlight from the top of one of the wings!

 The Connie was coming!  The Connie was coming!

This is the culmination of a 3800 mile trip.  When you see those overhangs and heights, and think about all those bridges and tunnels, and other drivers along the way, you can see why I didn't sleep too well for the last two weeks.


The big inboard wing panels came first - sliding past Boeing, and into the Museum.

Then that beautiful Triple Tail

Finally, that gorgeous fuselage - a Lockheed airplane rolling past the Boeing factory

For those interested, that rig is 150 feet long !!!

It was here that I almost lost it - one of "those moments" you can never, ever forget.
I tried to keep from shaking so I didn't mess up all my pictures.

Down the Museum Drive and into the parking lot.  Incredibly emotional - I felt my neck hairs standing straight up.


Finally, at the Museum of Flight

Time to go Public on one of my "dark little secrets".....

Yes, it's true - there have been three women in my life the last few years - this one is my Mistress - her name is Connie.  She was born in Burbank, California, but has been living in Canada for the past 55 years or so.  Like any 'proper' Mistress, she is good-looking, demands a lot of attention, and costs plenty of money.


And this one's name is Catherine Scott - Saviour of CF-TGE.  She was born in Canada.  Catherine sold the airplane to the MOF after fighting off any and all comers for a decade.  I call her "Our Lady of the Constellation."  Catherine drove her pickup truck all the way here from Toronto to follow "her" Super Connie into the Museum.  She may have "sold it", but emotionally, she'll always be "the owner."


And, yes, there's one more.  This one's name is Dot.  She was born in Canada too.  We've been legally married for 39 years, and she's put up with the hours, days, months, and years I've spent fooling around with my other women.  Patient and understanding of my unique  Ménage à Trois.

Home at Last


In the Museum's parking lot

    Jim Goodall

    Jim Goodall

The Move Crew with Bonnie Dunbar (Museum CEO) and Catherine Scott

........And now, it was time for CF-TGE to make her final move by truck.


At 1:30 PM, we began the move from the Museum parking lot - two miles north and into Boeing's Plant II
First the Wing Panels......and then the Tail made their way up the Airport Service Road

    Jim Goodall

And then it was time for that beautiful fuselage.  It had to go up the Bravo Taxiway.

As Tom Cathcart pointed out, this was the first time since August 1965 at Dorval in Montreal, that CF-TGE required a clearance from an active Airport Control Tower to make a ground movement.   With my good friend Evan Elliott in the pilot car and on the radio, and Boeing Ground on 121.9 :

"Canadian Tango Golf Echo is cleared to proceed northbound on the Bravo from the intersection of Bravo 9 to the intersection of  Bravo 3.  Advise when clear of the Bravo."

"Roger, Tango Golf Echo is proceeding north on the Bravo.  Will report clear."

    Jim Goodall

"Boeing Ground, Canadian Tango Golf Echo is clear of the Bravo."

A smiling Tom Cathcart!  (MOF Chief of Collections)

It's about 2:10 PM, and now it's time to cross the street

This is East Marginal Way in Seattle, Washington.  It runs north-south along the West side of Boeing Field.
From an aviation history standpoint, it is one of the most historic streets in the world.
Not many people know that - not even aviation people.
But I do - I keep track of little things like that.

For starters, airplanes crossing the street are somewhat unusual - especially big airplanes.
If you add historic airplanes - well, that's frosting on the cake.

Airplanes that have crossed this street include thousands of B-17s during WW II, the Boeing Prototype airplanes of the models B-29, C-97, B-47, B-52, and Boeing 737 and Boeing 747.  Also the first 400 production 737s.

And now it was the turn of yet one more historic airplane to make the crossing (we DID start with the green light!)

Other historic airplanes that have crossed this street include the Boeing 707 that became the First jet Air Force One, an American Airlines 727-200, and the Supersonic Concorde.

By my reckoning, one of the very few honest-to-goodness Lockheed Super G Constellations in the world - not a Freighter, not a Radar picket plane, not a converted military transport - but an airplane that was delivered as a Super Connie and spent her entire service life carrying fare-paying passengers.  And, restored to her appearance as delivered to her original operator - TCA.

    Jim Goodall

"Badges, we don't need no stinkin' badges..."

It seems everyone, inside and outside Seattle, insist on calling this "The Boeing Museum."
No!  It's NOT The Boeing Museum.  But it's pictures like this that continue to muddy the waters - as this Lockheed airplane passes through the Gatehouse and onto Boeing's Plant II.

After 55 years, Boeing no longer feels threatened by this airplane, and No! - they're not secretly studying the competition.....


The building with the saw-toothed roof in the background is Boeing's historic Plant II.  
Out of that building rolled the thousands of B-17s during WW II and many of the other historic airplanes noted above.
Sadly, this historic place is scheduled for demolition in the not-to-distant future.
But - before that happens, after re-assembly, our Super Connie will be re-located inside to join the Museum's B-17 and B-29.
Three historic airplanes - one built by Lockheed - inside the historic Boeing plant.


It's time for the move crew to exchange High-Fives all around.  Well deserved.
3800 miles (6129 km) - 12 days - Mission Accomplished!

I figure this airplane has been moved 8 times by truck over a 41 year period.

Probably over 5000 miles. (8000 km)
Eight times loaded onto flatbeds.  Eight times unloaded.
Eight times Disassembled and Eight times Re-assembled.

But this is the Last Time!
The Eighth and last time....
Safely in Plant II

In 1978, I began trying to get a Super Connie for the Museum.  I struggled with my first airplane for about 3 years, before it disappeared (an ex-radar picket airplane, it actually went back into service and flew across the Pacific!  It's still extant, although now derelict in Manila.)  Later in the 1980s, I landed another candidate airplane down in Van Nuys, California.  Unable to consummate that acquisition, it also disappeared from my radar (but it too survived, and is now in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.)

  About 2001, a  third airplane surfaced - this time in Toronto.  After about four years of "fooling around" on this acquisition, we started to get "serious."   It was Saturday, 9 July 2005, when I began the task of bringing this airplane to the Museum.  Since that memorable day, I've worked pretty near full-time on this project.  From long days and bone-chilling cold weeks in frigid Toronto to wrestling with lawyers and bureaucrats and busted budgets, there were more than a few occasions when I went to sleep wondering if this would ever actually happen.  But - it did - a lot of minor miracles, and some big ones along the way  - to arrive at this exact  place and time  --  50 months and we're finally "Safe at Home!"

As noted in the article I wrote for the Museum's magazine Aloft - this airplane has indeed been a Ship of Destiny.  So very many times, she arrived at a critical fork in the road  - a fork that by everything that's logical and holy - should have ended in her demise.  And yet, the gods of aviation history nudged her each time down the path towards salvation.  It is truly an amazing story, an unbelievable story, and I feel honored to have played a part in the last four years of this saga.  

My personal Thanks to the many people who 'shared the vision', and provided the time, the money, the elbow grease, and the support to make this glorious day into a reality.  We should all feel good about this for we have indeed participated in a noble deed  - having saved this beautiful example of the power of man's mind and heart and hands for future generations to glory in after we have all Gone West.

Next - we re-assemble the airplane outside and push her into Plant II for an undetermined time period - safely under-cover, if not yet in her final place of glory - viewable by her admiring fans.

A Personal Note about Boeing Plant II

Next - Reassembly in Boeing Plant II

Copyright 2009-2010 Robert Bogash.  All Rights Reserved

Photos copyright: Bob Bogash, Jim Goodall

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